Bidar Fort


A view of Bidar Fort from the top of Rangeen Mahal, looking out. Built in 1428 by Ahmed Shah Al Wali Bahamani
A view of Bidar Fort from the top of Rangeen Mahal, looking out. Built in 1428 by Ahmed Shah Al Wali Bahamani

Sultan Alla-Ud Din Bahman of the Bahmanid Dynasty shifted his capital from Gulbarga to Bidar in 1427 and built his fort along with a number of monuments in it. The fort was captured by Bijapur Sultanate in 1619–20, but fell to the Mughals in 1657; as a part of a Peace treaty.

The fort has five gates, 37 bastions and is surrounded by multiple moats. It houses multiple monuments, of which Rangin Mahal is the most decorated of them all. [Link]

Gallery | Sultan Bateri, Boloor, Mangaluru

Mangalore was an important town even during the early historic times referred to by Greek Geographers Pliny (23 AD) and Ptolemy (c. 150 AD). It was the capital of the Alupa rulers for a long time. In 1526 AD Mangalore was taken over by the Portuguese who were subsequently expelled by the Nayakas of Bidnur in the early 18th century. Haider Ali captured this place in 1763. In 1768, it went into the hands of the British.

Sultan Bateri, a watch tower, is said to have been built by Tipu Sultan to contain the warships into the Gurpur River. Though it is a simple watch tower, it looks like a miniature fortress with its many musket holes for mounting canons all round.

~ ASI Plaque at Sultan Bateri (Battery)

Click the images to view large images.

“I asked of Time for whom those temples rose,
That prostrate by his hand in silence lie:
His lips disdained the myst’ry to disclose,
And, borne on swifter wing, he hurried by!
The broken columns whose? I asked of Fame;
(Her kindling breath gives life to works sublime 😉
With downcast looks of mingled grief and shame,
She heaved the uncertain sigh, and followed Time.
Wrapt in amazement, o’er the mouldering pile
I saw Oblivion pass with giant stride;
And while his visage wore Pride’s scornful smile,
‘Haply thou know’st, then tell me, whose,’ I cried, ‘
Whose these vast domes that ev’n in ruins shine?’
’I reck not whose.” he said, ‘ they now are mine.’”

~ Alfonso Petrucci (c. 1490 – July 16, 1517)

Image: Ali Barid Shah Tomb, Bidar, Karnataka

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Gallery | Haft Gumbaz

Text of the Archaeological Survey of India‘s information boards at Haft Gumbaz, Kalaburagi (Gulbarga), Karnatak.

Tombs and mausoleums represent a large portion of Islamic architecture in India. The culmination of this rich funerary tradition is, of course the Taj Mahal in Agra. Perhaps because it is among the most well known monuments of the sub-continent, it is easy [to] take for granted the grand manner in which deceased rulers and holy men have been honoured, a practice that seems difficult to reconcile with a religion that has a history of discouraging veneration of humans through monuments. The earliest Islamic tomb in the subcontinent was that of Iltutmish of the Mamluk Dynasty, built in 1236 AD. The interior of his tomb is decorated with inscriptions, from thirty chapters of the Koran, about the power and unity of God, and duties of the devout believer. [This] practice of Koranic inscription continued through the tomb-building tradition in India and is mostly associated with the promise of Paradise to the true believer. This promise is also reflected in certain architectural elements, which represent aspects of Paradise which is visible in many tombs of the Deccan, through floral motifs, in the painting of the domes, and carving of masonry starting with the Bahamani style. The second possible reason for the growth of the funerary culture in India is the need for leaders, who came from abroad, bringing new traditions, languages, and religion, to establish a lasting relationship with the […] people they ruled.

This first occurred in India through the sufi saints of the Chisti order, who were the first religious leaders to be buried in the subcontinent.

The sufi saints became the medium for discourse between locals and their new rulers.

This legitimised new sultanates simultaneously, as Muslim and Indian spaces.

In 1422 AD, Gaisu Daraz (Bande Nawaz) of the Sayyid family (descendants of the Prophet) was buried in Gulbarga, which transformed the Deccan from a land of infidels open for conquest by Muslim invaders, to an Islamic sultanate, under the Bahamani Dynasty.

The Bahamani rulers were buried near his tomb, to receive his eternal benediction, but at the same time, created an eternal bond with Gulbarga, validating and bearing testament to their rule.

The Haft Gumbaz, meaning “seven domes” is a mausoleum of the Bahamani royal family, located on the outskirts of Gulbarga.

Individual ambitions, not only of the kings, but of their ministers and commanders account for the rich funerary tradition among Deccan sultanates.

While the ministers often overthrew, blinded, and assassinated weaker rulers they did not declare themselves “shah” or “sultan” but continued to pay tribute to an overthrown king.

Perhaps their desire to maintain social order accounts for these grand tombs, dedicated even to short reigning or puppet rulers.

Four of the Haft Gumbaz tombs are identifiable as those of Mujahid Shah Bahamani, Daud Shah Bahamni, Shams-ai-din, and Ghyas-al-din Bahamani, and Firuz Shah Bahamani.

The earlier tombs show predominant Tughlaqi influence, while the latest and most elaborate tomb, that of Firuz Shah, shows traces typical of what became the Bahamani style of architecture, the first Islamic style of the Deccan that deviated completely from Tughlaqi precedents.

Conversations of the Dead

Sri Aurobindo wrote these dialogues in 1910 or shortly before. He published the first two in the Karmayogin in 1910. The other three were published in 1920–23 without his editorial supervision; the fourth, between Jay Singh and Chh. Shivaji is reproduced here, from his manuscripts.

Download the entire PDF here


Shivaji, Jaysingh

JAYSINGH: Neither of us has prevailed. A third force has entered into the land and taken the fruits of your work, and as for mine, it is broken; the ideal I cherished has gone down into the dust.

SHIVAJI: For the fruit I did not work and by the failure I am not amazed nor discouraged.

JAYSINGH: Neither did I work for a reward, but to uphold the ideal of the Rajput. Unflinching courage in honourable warfare, chivalry to friend and foe, a noble loyalty to the sovereign of my choice, this seemed to me the true Indian tradition, preferable even to the unity and predominance of the Hindu races. Therefore I could not accept your overtures. But I gave you the opportunity to accept my own tradition and, when faith was not kept with either of us, I saved my honour and assisted your escape.

SHIVAJI: God extended to me His protection and moved the heart of a woman to give me love and aid. Traditions change. The ideal of the Rajput has its future, but the mould had to be broken in order that what was temporary in it might pass. Loyalty to the sovereign of my choice, that is good; but loyalty to the sovereign of my nation’s choice, that is better. The monarch is divine by the power of God expressed within him, but he has the power because he is the incarnation of the people. God in the nation is the deity of which the monarch must be the servant and the devotee. Vithoba, Virat of the Mahrattas, — Bhavani, incarnate as India, — in that strength I conquered.

JAYSINGH: Your political ideal was great, but your standard of means was abhorrent to our morality. Ruse, treachery, pillage, assassination were never excluded from your activity.

SHIVAJI: Not for myself I fought and ruled, but for God and the Maharashtra dharma, the religion of Hindu nationality which Ramdas enunciated. I offered my head to Bhavani and She bade me keep it to scheme and plot for the greatness of the nation. I gave my kingdom to Ramdas and he bade me take it back as a gift from God and the Mahrattas. I obeyed their commands. I slew when God commanded me, plundered because it was the means He pointed out to me. Treacherous I was not, but I helped my weakness in resource and numbers by ruse and stratagem, I conquered physical force by keenness of wit and brain-power. The world has accepted ruse in war and politics, and the chivalrous openness of the Rajput is not practiced either by the European or the Asiatic nations.

JAYSINGH: I hold the dharma as supreme and even the voice of God could not persuade me to abandon it.

SHIVAJI: I gave up all to Him and did not keep even the dharma. His will was my religion; for He was my captain and I his soldier. That was my loyalty, — not to Aurangzeb, not to a code of morals, but to God who sent me.

JAYSINGH: He sends us all, but for different purposes, and according to the purpose He moulds the ideal and the character. I am not grieved that the Mogul has fallen. Had he deserved to retain sovereignty, he could not have lost it; but even when he ceased to deserve, I kept my faith, my service, my loyalty. It was not for me to dispute the will of my emperor. God who appointed him might judge him; it was not my office.

SHIVAJI: God also appoints the man who rebels and refuses to prolong unjust authority by acquiescence. He is not always on the side of power; sometimes He manifests as the deliverer.

JAYSINGH: Let Him come down Himself, then, as He promised. Then alone would rebellion be justified.

SHIVAJI: From whence will He come down who is here already in our hearts? Because I saw Him there, therefore I was strong to carry out my mission.

JAYSINGH: Where is the seal upon your work, the pledge of His authority?

SHIVAJI: I undermined an empire, and it has not been rebuilt. I created a nation, and it has not yet perished.

शिवा-बावनी – ३ / Shiva Baavni – 3

The third of the 52; (बावनी)। We have an English and a हिन्दी translation. Scroll to the language of your choice.

We are very grateful to Shree Rajendra Chandrakant Rai, our Mentor & Advisor for teaching us the wonderful nuances, and helping us discover the beauty of Mahakavi Bhushan’s poetry.

प्रेतिनी पिशाचऽरु निसाचर निसाचरिहु,
मिलि मिलि आपुस में गावत बधाई हैं।
भैरौं भूत प्रेत भूरि भूधर भयंकर से,
जुत्थ जुत्थ जोगिनी जमात जुरिआई हैं।।
किलकि किलकि कै कुतूहल करति काली,
डिम डिम डमरू दिगम्बर बजाई है।
सिवा पूँछै सिव सौ समाज आजु कहाँ जली,
काहू पै सिवा नरेस भृकुटी चढाई है।।


भूरि = बहुत। भूधर = पहाड़। जुत्थ = समुदाय। जमात = संघ, झुण्ड। कुतूहल = तमाशा। दिगम्बर = महादेव। डिम डिम = डमरू बजने का शब्द। भृकुटी चढाई है = क्रोध किया है। शिवा = पार्वती। शिव = महादेव।


महाराज शिवाजी के द्वारा युद्ध की घोषणा करते ही तमाम प्रेतिनी, पिशाच, राक्शस-राक्शसनियां, भैरव-भूत, काली आदि सभी आनंद से उछल रहे हैं। वे एक-दूसरे के गलो लगकर बधाई-गीत गा रहे हैं। एक से एक भयंकर भूत-पिशाच और जोगिनीयों के झुण्ड के झुण्ड जमा हो रहे हैं। देवि कालिका किलकारियां लगाकर अपने हृदय की उत्सुकता को प्रकट कर रही हैं। और स्वयं शिव, जो ध्वंस के देवता हैं, प्रसन्नतापूर्वक अपना डमरु बजा रहे हैं। ऐसा वातावरण इसलिये बन गया है, क्योंकि सभी को यह आशा हो गयी है कि शिवाजी महराज रण-भूमि में पहुंचकर इतना नर-संहार करेंगे कि वे सब मांस खाकर और रक्त पीकर तृप्त हो जायेंगे।

शिव की पत्नीपार्वती देवि शिव से पूछ रहीं हैं कि यह सेना आज कहां जा रही है? क्या छत्रपति शिवाजी महराज की भृकुटी किसी पर टेढ़ी हो गयी है।

काव्य सुषमा:

१। अप्रस्तुत प्रशंसा अलंकार। इसे ब्याज स्तुति अलंकार भी कहते हैं।
२। पद में अनेक स्थलों पर अनुप्रास अलंकार है, क्योंकि एक ही वर्ण की आवृति एकाधिक बार हुई है।
३। पद में वीर रस है।
४। बुंदेली भाषा में पद रचना की गयी है।

English Translation:

pretinee pishaacharu nisaachar nisaacharihu,
mili mili aapus mein gaavat badhaee hain.
bhairaun bhoot pret bhoori bhoodhar bhayankar se,
jutth jutth joginee jamaat juriaee hain.
kilaki kilaki kai kutoohal karati kaalee,
dim dim damaroo digambar bajaee hai.
siva poonchhai siv sau samaaj aaju kahaan jalee,
kaahoo pai siva nares bhrkutee chadhaee hai.

Word Meanings:

भूरि = much, very. भूधर = mountain, जुत्थ = group, army. जमात = group, crowd. कुतूहल = specticle, frolic; also curiosity. दिगम्बर = Lord Shiva डिम डिम = the sound of a damru भृकुटी चढाई है = raised an eyebrow (depicting annoyance) शिवा = Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife शिव = Lord Shiva.


Shivaji’s declaration of war has all the denizens of the netherworld in great excitement. Goblins, ghosts, devils, demons, and hell hounds alike are dancing with joy. They are in full embrace, greeting each other, celebrating.  Groups of these scary, mountain-like dwellers of the infernal world are merging into one crowd. Their happiness is because Shivaji is leading his army to the battle-field, and there will be death and destruction of the evil forces. The inhabitants of hell, will today feast on the flesh and blood of the dead. Goddess Kali is excited by this spectacle; she shows eager interest (since her purpose: the destruction of evil, will be fulfilled). Lord Shiva; the God of Destruction, plays the damru in continuous litany.

Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife, asks where is this army of Shivaji headed? Who has incurred Shivaji’s wrath?

(In the verse, the poet uses a phrase that literally means, “caused Shivaji’s eyebrow to be raised” — implying irritation or annoyance, however describes the scene beforehand of destruction of enormous proportions.)

Poetic Beauty:

  1. This verse employs a type of metaphor in which the tenor is missing. Another quality is that it employs ब्याज स्तुति अलंकार – a figure of speech where blame, or negative connotations are used to praise someone or something.
  2. There is significant use of alliteration throughout the verse.
  3. The heroic metre in exaggerated form continues from the previous verses.
  4. The verse uses many words from the Bundelkhand region.

संदर्भ / References

  1. पं॰ हरिशंकर शर्मा कविरत्न। शिवा-बावनी, टीका-टिप्पनी, अलंकार तथा प्रस्तावना सहित। आगरा: रामप्रसाद एण्ड ब्रदर्स
  2. आनन्द मिश्र ‘अभय’।। शिवा-बावनी, छत्रसाल दशक सहित। लकनऊ: लोकहित प्रकाशन। २०१२
  3. आचार्य विश्वनाथप्रसाद मिश्र। भूषण ग्रंथावली। नयी दिल्ली: वाणी प्रकाशन। २०१२।

Featured Image: By Mir Muhammad [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons and Shilpi Awasthi

OpenSource Books | Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Today is the 160th birth Anniversary of Bal Gangadhar Tilak — Lokmanya, or, as the British chose to call him — Father of the Indian Unrest.

In an introduction to Tilak’s writings and speeches, this is what Sri Aurobindo had to say about Lokmanya Tilak.

Two facts of his life and character have to be insisted on as of special importance to the country because they give a great example of two things in which its political life was long deficient and is even now not sufficient. First, the inflexible will of the patriot and man of sincere heart and thorough action which has been the very grain of his character; for aspirations, emotion, enthusiasm are nothing without this; will alone creates and prevails. And wish and will are not the same thing, but divided by a great gulf; the one, which is almost of us get to, is a puny, tepid and inefficient thing and, even when most enthusiastic, easily discouraged and turned from its object; the other can be a giant to accomplish and endure. Secondly, the readiness to sacrifice and face suffering, not needlessly or with a useless bravado, but with a firm courage when it comes, to bear it and to outlive, returning to work with one’s scars as if nothing had happened. No prominent man in India has suffered more for his country; none has taken his sacrifices and sufferings more quietly and as a matter of course.

~ Sri Aurobindo

Download the full book here. [446 pages, Various Formats]

Photograph in Featured Image:By Madras : Ganesh & Co. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

OpenSource Books | Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi

Today is the 158th death anniversary of Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi. We found this short poem by Michael White, written in 1902.

Within no peerless Taj Mahal her body lies,
No gilded dome, nor fairy minarets against the azure skies,
Proclaim the place, where she, called by her foes, the “bravest and the best”
Was laid by reverential hands to her victorious rest:
But in the eternal sanctuary of her race,
The holy river, holy Mother Ganges, that coveted embrace,
Doth hold her ashes, and for a monument to her name,
Sufficeth it, that in the people’s hearts, her fame,
Doth shine immortal. For she was deeply loved, this Queen.
The beauteous, valiant Rani, India’s great heroine.

~ Michael White, in Lachmi Bai: Rani of Jhansi, 1902. Download the book for free from, here.

Featured image: By Lala Deen Dayal (1844–1905). [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Link | The Pillars of Ashoka

A short article describing the pillars of Ashoka

“Some pillars had edicts (proclamations) inscribed upon them.  The edicts were translated in the 1830s. Since the 17th century, 150 Ashokan edicts have been found carved into the face of rocks and cave walls as well as the pillars, all of which served to mark his kingdom, which stretched across northern India and south to below the central Deccan plateau and in areas now known as Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. The rocks and pillars were placed along trade routes and in border cities where the edicts would be read by the largest number of people possible. They were also erected at pilgrimage sites such as at Bodh Gaya, the place of Buddha’s Enlightenment, and Sarnath, the site of his First Sermon and Sanchi, where the Mahastupa, the Great Stupa of Sanchi, is located (a stupa is a burial mound for an esteemed person. When the Buddha died, he was cremated and his ashes were divided and buried in several stupas. These stupas became pilgrimage sites for Buddhist practitioners).”

(Via The Pillars of Ashoka – Smarthistory)

Featured Image via Wikipedia: By Rajeev kumar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Link | Incredible Megaliths of India

The Ancient Origins site has a recently published a two-part article on megaliths in India.

“The relationship between the megalith builders and religious practices of south India is complex and one that is ripe for further interpretation. It is usually assumed that the megaliths are the work of India’s many tribal groups, who have left few or no literary records. What we might call India’s ‘great’ tradition in contrast has a very large body of written texts. Early Indian scriptures and mythological literature actually do occasionally refer to the megaliths. For example, there are several highly venerated epic poems of South India, products of the Tamil Sangam age, which takes its name from a gathering or assembly of three hundred Tamil poets and scholars, who were ‘taken by the sea’. The late Kamil Zvelebil, esteemed scholar of Tamil culture, thought the gathering did actually happen on a regular basis. The time frame for the Sangam age is usually set circa 350 BCE to 300 CE and would overlap with the final phase of megalithic construction.”

Read Part 1 and Part 2